NEW YORK —October 15, 2009 — Hunton & Williams LLP's Centre for Information Policy Leadership today announced Richard Thomas CBE, former UK Information Commissioner, will join the Centre as Strategy Adviser.
Richard Thomas was the UK's Information Commissioner from November 2002 until his retirement at the end of June 2009. He was appointed by HM The Queen and held independent status, reporting directly to Parliament, on a range of regulatory, promotional and advisory responsibilities under the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and related laws. He also served as a member of the European Union’s Article 29 Working Party on Data Protection. Richard was awarded Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for public service in June 2009.
Richard joins Hunton & Williams' Centre for Information Policy Leadership (the Centre or CIPL) in London. The Centre, a leading international data privacy and information think tank, was founded in Washington, DC in 2001 by Hunton & Williams, one of the world’s leading privacy and data protection law firms, in conjunction with a number of global companies. It was established to develop innovative, pragmatic approaches to privacy and information security issues, and the Centre has stimulated international discussion on many key privacy issues, including governance models for international data transfer, privacy legislation in emerging economies, transparency and government use of private sector data. The Centre's knowledge bank is publicly available, and used to inform policymakers and privacy professionals worldwide.
Richard will bring his experience to develop further the Centre's body of knowledge on new approaches to global data protection strategies and policies across both public and private sectors. He will, alongside other privacy practitioners worldwide, help to develop new policy perspectives on the management of data risk and privacy protection.
Recent research published by the Centre suggests that national laws are insufficient to cope with the challenges of accelerating cross-border data activity. As privacy and data protection issues increasingly move up the corporate and public policy agenda, the Centre will especially look to Richard for guidance in Europe to inform the public and private sectors on the implementation of appropriate strategies to safeguard privacy and data.
"We are delighted that Richard has chosen to join the Centre for Information Policy Leadership," said Executive Director Martin Abrams. "His addition complements our international reach and, as one of the most respected privacy practitioners on the international stage, his unique regulatory and commercial experience will make a significant contribution to the Centre's global reputation."
Lisa Sotto, New York-based head of the Privacy & Information Management practice at international law firm Hunton & Williams and an executive member of CIPL, said: "Richard’s appointment to the Centre is very exciting for us, and he will be an invaluable resource in Europe for our U.S. and international clients. His career at the top echelons of government and industry will provide us with the crucial regulators view on the effective management of cross-border data flows as well as emerging privacy issues such as cloud computing, e-discovery and on-line privacy."
Bridget Treacy, who leads the Privacy & Global Sourcing practice in London for Hunton & Williams, and is an executive member of CIPL, commented: "Global organisations require practical advice on the use of information as an asset to maintain competitive advantage. They need privacy strategies that will enable and not hinder their commercial ambitions, while ensuring that individual rights are safeguarded. The recent dramatic rise in data breaches in Europe, and increased enforcement powers of regulators, means that clients require high-level guidance on mitigating and managing information risk. Richard's presence at the Centre will enable us to provide advice and guidance at precisely this level."
According to Brussels-based partner Christopher Kuner, who leads the firm's European Privacy practice, "Richard’s presence will be of tremendous value in working to implement a more efficient framework for approval of binding corporate rules (BCRs) by data protection regulators."
Commenting on his arrival, Richard Thomas said: "I am delighted to be joining the Centre for Information Policy Leadership. I have long been an admirer of the Centre's responsible and constructive approach and I welcome the association with Hunton & Williams, which is one of the world's top law firms for privacy and information management. Advances in technology have generated global data flows on a scale which was unimaginable when most laws were drafted. The scope for things to go wrong — with damage to individuals and to organizational reputations and prosperity — is still not fully appreciated. The difficulties faced by national laws in coping with the challenges of cross-border activity accelerate the need for new thinking. Privacy and data protection have moved centre stage, but many laws have got left behind in the last century."
He continued: "I am, however, optimistic that opportunities for meaningful reform are now opening up in Europe, in the United States and among the APEC economies. The Centre has done some great work in articulating the case for new approaches. It is really encouraging that this is attracting support among all the key communities, including regulators, businesses, policy-makers and civil society. I look forward to playing an active part in carrying forward this thought leadership agenda and developing mechanisms to turn good thinking into concrete achievements."
NOTES TO EDITORS
About Richard Thomas CBE
Richard Thomas was the UK’s Information Commissioner from November 2002 until his retirement at the end of June 2009. In September 2009 he took over as the part-time Chairman of the UK’s Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council (AJTC), to which he was appointed by the Lord Chancellor. The AJTC reviews the accessibility, fairness and efficiency of the arrangements for resolving disputes between governmental bodies and individuals. He was also appointed to the Board of Directors of The International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP), the world’s largest association of privacy professionals.
Prior to becoming Information Commissioner, Richard held various high-profile positions including Director of Public Policy at global law firm Clifford Chance, Director of Consumer Affairs at the Office of Fair Trading, Head of Public Affairs and Legal Officer at the National Consumer Council, and a solicitor at the Citizens Advice Bureau Service.
He previously held various public appointments including membership of the Lord Chancellor’s Civil Justice Review Advisory Committee and of the Board of the Financial Ombudsman Service. He currently serves as Deputy Chairman of the UK Consumers Association, has been awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws by the University of Southampton, and is a visiting Professor at the University of Northumbria.
About Hunton & Williams LLP
Hunton & Williams LLP provides legal services to corporations, financial institutions, governments and individuals, as well as to a broad array of other entities. Since the firm's establishment more than a century ago, Hunton & Williams has grown to about 1,000 attorneys serving clients in 100 countries from 19 offices around the world. While key practices have a strong industry focus on energy, financial services and life sciences, the depth and breadth of the firm's experience extends to more than 100 separate practice areas, including privacy and information management, bankruptcy and creditors rights, commercial litigation, corporate transactions and securities law, intellectual property, international and government relations, regulatory law, products liability.